For more than 20 years, comedians of all levels of notoriety have peddled their laugh-inducing verbal wares on Riddles Comedy Clubs’ stages. An airbrushed city skyline sits behind the corner stage, where such comedians as Jeff Dunham, Louie Anderson, and Drew Carey slung jokes to side-split audiences. A full bar with overhanging LCD TVs dispenses alcoholic and nonalcoholic whistle-wetters in between sets. Additionally, Riddles' lots house free parking for those driving from far-off locales or patrons who can't find a limo service that takes knock-knock jokes as payment.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Hand-cut and -rubbed with award-winning seasoning, the wings at Cigars and Stripes are smoked for more than four hours before pit masters reheat them on the grill. Then, they toss them in your choice of homemade sauces, including a buffalo-style sauce made with cayenne and a super hot sauce made with peppers and molasses. The process is emblematic of the culinary team’s barbecue mastery, which they further showcase with entrees that change throughout the week, including hand-pulled pork marinated with pineapple and mango, slow-smoked for 13 hours, and topped with chipotle corn salsa. To complement those sauce-soaked bites, bartenders keep 13 beers on tap and stock tons more by the bottle, including Delirium Tremens and Founders Breakfast Stout. Comedians grace the bar’s stage twice weekly as part of a calendar that also includes regular movie nights, TV-nights, live music, and trivia, and once a year Cigars and Stripes trades chuckles for chills with their annual Freaktober Fest, which features beer tastings, tarot card readings, and screenings of scary movies, such as Beaches.
Defending the Caveman, the longest-running one-man comedy in Broadway history, treats the recently rechristened Akoo Theatre at Rosemont to one special evening of insightful and gut-busting social anthropology. A worldwide hit since the script was unfrozen in 1991, funnyman Rob Becker’s perceptive dissection of the battle of the sexes has charmed millions of theatergoers while uniting dozens of estranged paleontologists. Skewering the hubris of machismo and machisma, the populist play sweetly chides both genders with side-splitting anecdotes and relatable scenarios that hit home like an overzealous paperboy. Extracting laughs from singles and the betrothed, Defending the Caveman works both as a rousing comedy and as couples therapy.
At The ComedySportz Theatre, audience suggestions keep an all-ages, family-friendly and fast-paced vortex of scenes, games, and songs spinning in competitive shows that pit two improv teams against each other. Inside the intimate, 149-seat theater, spontaneity rules as a referee moderates the all-ages-appropriate hilarity pitched between the Chicago Bosses and The Evanston Express. At the end of each comedic duel, the points and audience votes are tallied to determine the winning team, sentencing the losers to feed the doves that live inside the winners' top hats.
The ComedySportz Training Center's seasoned instructors also teach six-week courses in the art of improvised hilarity and the essential virtues of spontaneity, risk taking, and engagement with the moment. Through scene work, ComedySportz games, and short- and long-form improv, students learn to keep audiences roaring in order to jump-start a career or become a more affable bank robber.
As the sound of live music perfumes the air, The Abbey Pub crafts a menu populated by Irish and American pub fare, complete with burgers, finger food, and custom pizzas. As patrons sip on domestic and imported brews, as well as a wealth of Irish whiskey, scotch, and bourbon, their fingers can wander to an appetizer of curry fries or a tower of sourdough pretzels. Sandwiches, burgers, and entrees such as bangers and mash satisfy bar-goers at dinner, and brunch on the weekends wakes up bellies emitting cartoon Zs from their navels. Fourteen flat screen TVs and a 15-foot projector incite cheers and a raw spectrum of emotion with telecasts of rugby, soccer, and major national sporting events. Next door, the venue hosts hometown and traveling bands that play genres ranging from indie rock and blues to dog-whistle symphonies.